Helga's story was chosen to showcase this exercise.
Well done Helga!!!
What’s in a Name?
With shoulders sagging forward Mrs Weedon sat at her desk near the open window. With her elbow leaning on the desk she cradled her chin in her left hand. The other hand held a pen that was gleaming with moisture from her nibbling it while agonising about a name for her yet unborn first child. The test had shown that a daughter was due to arrive within the week.
She had stared for some time into a booklet called ‘Names for Your Baby’, when she heard a little bird call out ‘wen–dee, wen-dee!’ before flitting off to the next tree. Mrs Weedon couldn’t believe her eyes, as she now looked down to the bottom of the page. There it was, black on white, ‘Wendy’.
She straightened up, threw her arms in the air and cried, ‘Okay, that’s it!’
Her best friend Tina came for a visit, armed with her own ideas for a name to bestow on her intended god-child. She towered over her friend, with arms akimbo, pinched mouth and blazing eyes.
‘Surely, Sharon, you wouldn’t do that to anybody, let alone your own baby!’
‘What’s wrong with Wendy? I like it, even the bird sang it.
‘Wendy is a lovely name, I agree. If your surname would be Ahern or Butler, I’d have no hesitation to have her christened Wendy. A name like Wendy Weedon is just asking for ridicule. Why not Amanda or Bettina or anything else? Please, Sharon, not one that surely will become a Wee-word. You know, how kids love anything that has connotations with the nether region, don’t you?’
Sharon looked down on her swollen belly. Folding both arms protectively over it, her face set firmly, she told her friend to look for some other god-child if Wendy wasn’t good enough for her.
‘In that case, Tina snapped back, I’m out of here.’ She slammed the gift, she had brought, on the desk and stormed out of the room, muttering,
‘Wee, Wee Weed on. Really!’
For more than five years Wendy lived in blissful ignorance of the row the choice of her name had brought about. Now, enrolled in pre-school, the world seemed to be crushing down on her.
All of Wendy’s books had her name clearly printed on them in capital letters.
The little imp, sitting next to Wendy, had already learned from his older siblings how to read a few letters. He leaned over to Wendy and put his finger on the printed names.
‘WE... WEED.. he read out loud, and finding his own joke hilarious he laughed, showing all the gaps that his first teeth had left when they had fallen out a few weeks earlier. Before Wendy could stop him, he had grabbed one of her exercise books and held it up for the class to admire his cleverness, dancing on the spot he shouted,
‘Wee-wee weed, wee-wee weed!’
Teary eyed, lips curled to the inside of her mouth and curls thrown back, little Wendy was on top of her taunter’s seat and whacked Johnny’s crown with her other book before he could finish her name. In that instance, Ms Baker entered through the open doorway. Johnny started crying the moment he spotted the teacher. Wendy took a bit longer, before hopping from her perch. Ms Baker shook her head and scolded her.
‘Wendy, that’s unacceptable behaviour, I hope never to see you do it again. Do you understand?’ Wendy only bent her head toward her chest and letting her tears flow freely. Ms Baker then addressed the blubbering Johnny. With her right index finger she gently touched him under his chin, forcing him to look up to her.
‘Why those big tears, John?’
‘Wendy hit me!’ He blurted out and using the back of his hand, he wiped his eyes and nose almost simultaneously.
‘Ah, and did you also hurt Wendy before she hit you?’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘But you called her names, didn’t you?’
‘I only read what’s written on her books. It does say WE ,WEE , I know. My brother is in grade two and he told me.’ By now John stood straight, just as he had seen his brothers do when they were taken to task by their parents. With feet apart, arms folded behind his back he stared straight into Ms Baker’s face.
‘Wendy’s feelings were hurt by your silliness. Now promise me never to be so cruel again.’
With crossed fingers behind his back Johnny vowed that he would never do it again. The instant the children behind him saw it, Wendy Weedon’s fate was sealed.
All her primary school years she was called wee, wee Wendy and later everybody knew her as Wee. In a perverse kind of way the nickname helped her to become a kind of celebrity. She was asked to most parties and often for advice. She was voted in as captain for the hockey team and she represented her year at debating.
Between all those hangers-on Wendy had found just one single true friend, Ursula Smith. One day, when Ursula hurried toward their meeting place, she found her friend slouched on a park bench.
Wendy was flicking bits of her lunch towards the quacking ducks, yet her face didn’t betray any enjoyment she might have derived from the activity. Ursula plonked herself next to her, making the bench quiver. She grabbed Wendy’s arm and exclaimed,
‘Listen Wee, I know how you can start Uni with a new image.’
‘Oh yea? Tell me.’
‘You do have a middle name, don’t you?’
‘Apparently, Mother never thought of one.’ Biting her inner lip, she bunched up her lunch wrappers, pressing them hard to make a ball; then tossed it into the nearby rubbish bin.
‘Never mind,’ said Ursula and wrapped her arm around Wendy’s shoulder. ‘We invent one for you. Since you’re nearly eighteen, you can apply straight away to make it legal. How would A. R. Weedon grab you? Doesn’t it sound impressive and really grown-up?’ Wendy’s eyes had lit up when she asked,
‘What would you have the A and R stand for?’
Ursula jumped up from her seat. Her words tumbled out of her mouth as she explained her idea.
‘You told me once that you liked the name Abigail, remember? And since your father’s name is Robert I choose Robyn as a middle name. So, if you agree, then I will, with the power not invested in me, declare you to be Abigail R. Weedon, till death does us part!’
A big grin invaded Wendy’s earnest face as she embraced her friend.
Giggling, as only happy teenagers can, the two of them sauntered hand in hand towards the offices of the Public Curator.